Plasma processes in the Earth's neighborhood determine the environmental conditions under which space-based equipment for science or technology must operate. These processes are peculiar to a state of matter that is rare on Earth but dominates the universe as whole. The physical, and especially the electrodynamic, properties of this state of matter is still far from well understood. By fortunate circumstances, the magnetosphere-ionosphere system of the Earth provides a rich sample of widely different plasma populations, and, even more importantly, it is the site of a remarkable variety of plasma processes. In different combinations such processes must be important throughout the universe, which is overwhelmingly dominated by matter in the plasma state. Therefore, observations and experiments in the near-Earth plasma serve a multitude of purposes. They will not only (1) clarify the dynamics of the space environment but also (2) widen the understanding of matter, (3) form a basis for interpretating remote observations of astrophysical objects, thereby even (4) help to reconstruct events that led to the evolution of the solar system. Last but not least they will (5) provide know-how required for adapting space-based technology to the plasma environment. Such observations and experiments will require a close mutual interplay between science and technology.